Oil-rich Gulf states are mulling ways to help Jordan shore up its fuel supplies after sharp price increases sparked protests against the king, the United Arab Emirates foreign minister said on Monday.
“We, in the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf Cooperation Council states, are studying means of ending or minimizing this deficit” in affordable fuel, Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan told a joint news conference with his visiting Jordanian counterpart Nasser Judeh.
But this requires talks with Jordanian and GCC officials on “technical” issues “which could take some time,” the Emirati minister said.
“There are some ideas but it’s still too early to discuss them before a clear agreement is reached,” he said.
Judeh said that “UAE officials are very understanding towards the critical situation we are going through.”
Jordan, has been attacked 14 times since last year.
Hundreds of Jordanians demonstrated on Monday outside the prime minister’s offices in protest against fuel price hikes that have met with public outcry over the past week, an AFP journalist said.
Around 500 protesters marched two kilometers (more than a mile) from the headquarters of Jordan’s joint unions body in west Amman to the premier’s building, chanting “Those raising fuel prices want to see the country burn,” and “Beware the people's wrath.”
“The people want the fall of the regime,” some chanted.
Jordanian unions staged a strike on Sunday to protest against the fuel price rises, which could see the cost of household gas rise by 53 percent.
Meanwhile, in December last year, the six Gulf states announced the setting up of a five-billion-dollar development fund for Jordan and Morocco, both candidate members of the GCC.
On Friday, thousands of protesters made unprecedented calls for Jordan’s King Abdullah II to go, as police blocked them from heading to the royal palace to vent their anger over big fuel price increases.
Prime Minister Abdullah Nsur on Saturday defended the 53 percent increase in the price of household gas and 12 percent rise in the price of petrol as “unavoidable” given the kingdom’s $5-billion (3.9-billion-euro) budget deficit.
Jordan relies on imports for 95 percent of its energy needs and has been struggling to find affordable alternatives to Egyptian gas supplies, which have been repeatedly hit by sabotage.
Egyptian gas normally covers 80 percent of the kingdom’s power generation needs but the pipeline, which supplies gas to Israel as well as